Welcome to the Slashdot Beta site -- learn more here. Use the link in the footer or click here to return to the Classic version of Slashdot.

Thank you!

Before you choose to head back to the Classic look of the site, we'd appreciate it if you share your thoughts on the Beta; your feedback is what drives our ongoing development.

Beta is different and we value you taking the time to try it out. Please take a look at the changes we've made in Beta and  learn more about it. Thanks for reading, and for making the site better!

Microsoft to Charge for Office Beta

Zonk posted more than 8 years ago | from the pay-to-play dept.


theodp writes "Beginning next Wednesday, those who download the 2007 Microsoft Office system Beta 2 will be charged $1.50 per download, according to a Microsoft spokeswoman." From the article: "Although Microsoft's Information Worker Product Management Group decided to initiate a fee for new users of Beta 2, the "technical refresh," or update, for current users of the software will remain free, the spokeswoman said. Those who want to test drive Beta 2 to review how it works can access the software for free. But if they need to test it against their internal systems, a download or the CD is required. "

cancel ×


Sorry! There are no comments related to the filter you selected.

How is any different? (4, Funny)

grolschie (610666) | more than 8 years ago | (#15804404)

All MS products are really just betas that are tested on end users. By the time that they are reasonably robust, they drop support for them. :-)


CmdrTaco (troll) (578383) | more than 8 years ago | (#15804484)

And that's no beta people - that's RELEASE!

Re:How is any different? (1, Insightful)

grammar fascist (239789) | more than 8 years ago | (#15804701)

All MS products are really just betas that are tested on end users.

Maybe this is why they're charging - so they actually get something from the people who would download the beta and keep using it rather than buying the full version, or dissuade them from downloading the beta at all.

They must be assuming those people are pretty cheap. They might be right.

Re:How is any different? (5, Interesting)

LiquidCoooled (634315) | more than 8 years ago | (#15804727)

My boss has a theory about free software (of any type, OSS/pirated/beta/given away).
He says that if you pirate software (or otherwise get it free) then you have no vested interest in making sure it works for you. If you come across a problem with something you paid nothing for, you are less likely to try very hard to get it resolved.
However, once you have paid for something the mindset becomes "why isn't my program working".

Don't know if this is the case with microsoft, but it kindof makes sense.

Re:How is any different? (1)

Bender_ (179208) | more than 8 years ago | (#15804744)

That is opposed to the continuous alpha testing that all users of open source software do?

makes sense (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15804407)

...they have been charging for betas (e.g. Windows XP Retail) for years!

LOL (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15804413)

That's what I'd be paying for the full version, if I wanted it. And I don't.

ITS FRIDAY NIGHT (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15804417)

im jacking off to GOATSE []

Eat me (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15804421)

Eat me

$1.50? (-1, Redundant)

Sixtyten (991538) | more than 8 years ago | (#15804423)

And why are they doing this, exactly?

Re:$1.50? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15804432)

Wow. You thought it was easier to type this question and enter the captcha correctly than to simply click the link and read the first three sentences.

And yes, I'm new here

Re:$1.50? (2, Funny)

Sixtyten (991538) | more than 8 years ago | (#15804493)

Wow. You thought it was easier to type this question and enter the captcha correctly than to simply click the link and read the first three sentences. And yes, I'm new here
Looks like you've already got the hang of it more so then I. :( And I've been on Slashdot for almost two days now. It's a very different kind of community. You're forced to make good posts. Why go against internet tradition, anyway?

Re:$1.50? (1)

hackwrench (573697) | more than 8 years ago | (#15804598)

There are no captchas for registered accounts. There didn't use to be for Anonymous Cowards. It's been so long since I posted as Anonymous Coward, I was unaware that Slashdot had implemented them...

Of course, my account has been around long enough that they may have implemented captchas on new accounts and I still would be unaffected.

Re:$1.50? (2, Insightful)

qzulla (600807) | more than 8 years ago | (#15804435)

FTFA: "Since the end of May, Beta 2 has been downloaded more than 3 million times...That's 500 percent more than what was expected," the spokeswoman said. "The fee helps offset the cost of downloading from the servers." From one of the richest cash companies im the world who owns the Office? Yeah! Pinching pennies, are they? qz

Re:$1.50? (1)

Sixtyten (991538) | more than 8 years ago | (#15804456)

FTFA: "Since the end of May, Beta 2 has been downloaded more than 3 million times...That's 500 percent more than what was expected," the spokeswoman said. "The fee helps offset the cost of downloading from the servers." From one of the richest cash companies im the world who owns the Office? Yeah! Pinching pennies, are they? qz
Exactly what I was thinking. Why not use their billions of dollars instead of insisting that user pay for the privilege of testing their software?

Re:$1.50? (2, Insightful)

shark72 (702619) | more than 8 years ago | (#15804463)

"From one of the richest cash companies im the world who owns the Office? Yeah! Pinching pennies, are they?"

Correct. This is exactly how they became so wealthy.

Re:$1.50? (3, Interesting)

cbreaker (561297) | more than 8 years ago | (#15804671)

Hmm. And here I was thinking it was predatory and illegal business practices, which they are now using to milk the customer for all they have.

$1.50? Bullshit. Unless the betas are non-expiring, it's test software. Why should we pay to test their software? If they want to test on a wide scale they need to figure it into the budget or stop and use a sign-up method.

Three million downloads? Big deal. They act like that's a lot these days. Other companies get away with it, and don't charge more.

It's just a show of how belligerent they've become to their customer base. They know they'll sell a bazillion copies of it, so they really don't give a shit.

Re:$1.50? (1)

aussie_a (778472) | more than 8 years ago | (#15804901)

$1.50? Bullshit. Unless the betas are non-expiring, it's test software. Why should we pay to test their software?

Then don't. If only 1/5th of the people who already downloaded continue to use it in a manner that allows Microsoft to test the bugs, they'll be happy.

Re:$1.50? (1)

ditoa (952847) | more than 8 years ago | (#15804981)

Most of the people who downloaded it for free are not going to report any bugs to Microsoft anyway. The charge is to stop people who are really not interested from wasting their bandwidth. If you want to have a play with the new version of office just for fun than $1.50 isn't over the top (better than $10 for shipping a CD). You also have to remember most people who actually want the beta either have an MSDN subscription and got it from there or already downloaded it. This introduction of a charge is to cover (and perhaps recoup) some costs for the bandwidth. I know it sounds crazy but bandwidth is expensive, very expensive and when you are talking 1323000000MB of bandwidth (441MB x 3,000,000downloads) that is some serious cash and when 80-90% (probably highly actually) of those downloads were pointless downloads (as MS got not feedback) then it is throwing money down the drain.

Re:$1.50? (4, Insightful)

chill (34294) | more than 8 years ago | (#15804515)

One simple reason -- to get your name, address, phone number and credit card number. What better way to get a few million high-quality mailing list additions?

Not only will you be assimilated, but you're going to damn well pay for the privilege.


Re:$1.50? (1)

AthenianGadfly (798721) | more than 8 years ago | (#15804613)

To cover the cost of the credit card transaction.


Re:$1.50? (1)

Elektroschock (659467) | more than 8 years ago | (#15804972)

"But if they need to test it against their internal systems, a download or the CD is required."

Probably they think of Wine compatibility....

"need to test it against their internal systems" sounds as if there was an operating system problem or a problem with your machine, provided it does not run the app beta.

I guess providers of alternative operating systems such as Reactos or users of compatibility layers such as Wine are addressed here. Or users or producers of special braille devices and other addons etc.

charging for a favor? (4, Insightful)

treak007 (985345) | more than 8 years ago | (#15804426)

Beta testing is a service to the company that is having their product beta tested. This will most likely deter most people from beta testing office 2007, so the office 2007 product will suffer because of this. Gotta wonder what they are thinking.

Re:charging for a favor? (3, Interesting)

RonnyJ (651856) | more than 8 years ago | (#15804473)

Most people that want to beta test Office 2007 would have already downloaded it - it's been downloadable for free for over two months now.

The peopl eit will deter (5, Insightful)

Sycraft-fu (314770) | more than 8 years ago | (#15804521)

Are probably the ones they don't care about anyhow. Sheer numbers don't help in an open beta, unless it's for stress testing a server or something. What helps are people who will give useful feedback on problems in their environment. That is generally professionals. The high school kid who downloads it because it's new and cool probably isn't going to send useful bug reports, if they send any at all. The IT staff for a large company that download it to test against their configuration are much more likely to.

Well, for a company, or even a serious individual, $1.50 is peanuts. I can gaurentee we'll pick up a few copies at work to test, though in our setup there is very little we need ot test agianst.

Remember MS has internal testers, lots of them, who's entire job is to test the software and find bugs. Public betas aren't because they don't have testers, they are more for public commentary on features and impementation, and more importantly so people can test new MS stuff against their configuration. With Vista, for example, MS was well aware of the bugs in it. They weren't releasing it because they thought it was perfect, they were releasing it because they thought it was good enough to be useful for people to test with.

In MS speak, an RC, Release Candidate, is when their internal testers think a product is ready to go. They release that to the public, or a limited set for testing against the multitude of configs. If serious problems are found, they do another RC, if not that RC goes final.

So I think MS would be plenty happy to get rid of the casual downloaders that eat up bandwidth and, if they file reports at all, file things like "T3h program si crashing on me!!!1111". Well duh, it's beta. They'd like to know what is happening to make that happen, though they already may know about it. they are more interested in letting you test it against your setup, and figure out what you need to do to be ready for it.

Re:The peopl eit will deter (2, Insightful)

rolfwind (528248) | more than 8 years ago | (#15804617)

I would think a company will start public beta testing once internal testing isn't cost-effective anymore versus the public. That is to say, once the internal testers caught all the bugs they can, it becomes harder and harder to find bugs per corporate dollar spent until the manager can't justify it anymore versus releasing it into the wild and seeing what they get there. The trade-off is, of course, bad press if the beta works particularly poorly.

Of course, if the $1.50 charge now brings a $10 or whatever rebate in the mail later for testers, it will be good marketing.

Re:The peopl eit will deter (2, Insightful)

Sycraft-fu (314770) | more than 8 years ago | (#15804707)

That's not really effective in general with a company as big as MS. You get more bugs caught by people who are trying to catch them, and are trained in how to do so, how to reproduce them and how to report them. The primary bugs you catch in public release are ones of rare compatibility. You know you install Office and also have small app X on your system and they conflict. They do look for that in the beta phase, but the RC phase is really where they clear it up.

When MS releases something they call a beta they know it's not bug free and done yet, and their people are working on it. It's mainly for the benefit of the end user to test in their environment. Like with Vista hardware makers are writing drivers, software makers are updating apps, and companies are planning for integration. They want this done (espically the driver part) before the mainstream release of the OS. So though they know there's stuff that needs wokring on, they release it as is because it's good enough for testing.

Remember with products for the enterprise it's as important that your customers are ready for what you are releasing as anything else. I'd be all kinds of pissed off if Vista rolls out, ships with new Gateways, and then it doesn't work with our setup. Well, not a problem, I can and have gotten my hands on it and done testing. Already found one major issue, our Samba server was too old to support the method for filesharing Vista was using. So we got that fixed up, though we are actually evaluating having Vista just use NFS since it has an NFS client.

That's the real point here with these betas. Give companies time to see what's comming and plan for it. They will happily kick in a couple bucks to do that. Heck another department paid for Vista simply because they couldn't get on to the download server so they just spent $40 ordering 4 DVDs. It's just not a major expense for testing. Even if they don't credit it to purchase, it doesn't matter. The money is worth it to get a test done before you've got to go live.

For big companies, it's just not the same situation as small ones. Sure if you've only got 1 tester other than the programmer, it's good to go beta so more people can test it. However if you have whole legions of testers, which MS does, it's just not necessary. Note that many large software firms don't do public betas. It's all done internally.

Re:charging for a favor? (4, Insightful)

NitsujTPU (19263) | more than 8 years ago | (#15804561)

You're reading too much into why people download beta software.

They don't download it to test it. They download it to be cooler than everyone else. To have the new, bleeding-edge stuff.

So, MS probably isn't getting much useful data about bugs, certainly, if it's this many people, they only need a fraction of them. Instead, they have thousands of users of buggy software, and since they're chasing off a reputation for buggy software, they probably don't really want this.

So, $1.50. You get software really cheaply (minus support, though, they'll probably be nagged into it), and they get fewer yahoos, a laughable amount of money, and justification for this.

Don't forget, a lot of the beta testers will just run the betas, and not purchase the actual product. Why get the newest version of office for a couple hundred? You can get the beta for free. Now that it's $1.50, most people will probably stick to the version that came with their computer.

That's why. Even a small company can appreciate that this many beta testers is not a favor of any kind, except perhaps for publicity's sake.

Re:charging for a favor? (1) troll (593289) | more than 8 years ago | (#15804723)

If they arn't going to buy it either way, Microsoft is better off with them running a free beta than what their computer shipped with. The key is in the fileformat -- If theres a wide enough userbase that people use the latest format that isn't compatible with "what came with their computer".. Someone has to pay up sometime.

Beta testing. (1)

babbling (952366) | more than 8 years ago | (#15804813)

Let's set so double the killer delete select all.

Re:charging for a favor? (1)

aussie_a (778472) | more than 8 years ago | (#15804905)

All they need is 1 in 5 people not to be deterred and Microsoft will have as wide of a testing pool as they originally wanted.

Bandwidth ! (4, Insightful)

in2mind (988476) | more than 8 years ago | (#15804429)

Those who download the 2007 Microsoft Office system Beta 2 will be charged $1.50 per download

I wanted to joke if microsoft wants to cover bandwidth charges.....but seems thats the real reason !!


"Since the end of May, Beta 2 has been downloaded more than 3 million times...That's 500 percent more than what was expected," the spokeswoman said. "The fee helps offset the cost of downloading from the servers."

Re:Bandwidth ! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15804477)

damn, they should just put it on bittorrent.

Re:Bandwidth ! (1)

in2mind (988476) | more than 8 years ago | (#15804934)

damn, they should just put it on bittorrent.

Thats such a good Idea !
But do they really want people to get it?

Not just $1.50 (5, Insightful)

Jah-Wren Ryel (80510) | more than 8 years ago | (#15804439)

Don't forget, it's not just $1.50 -- it's also all those personal details like full name, billing address and probably telephone number that you have to hand over to MS in order for them to process the charge against your credit card. That level of detail on each downloader is probably worth in excess of $1.50 all by itself.

I really wish credit card issuers would let us use bogus values for that information. They need it on file to bill you and contact you in an emergency like the cancellation/disablement of your card due to fraud. But for all the merchants, that info is just a fancy password to authenticate you with. But it also suffers from the same problems that SS#'s do - its a password that isn't really a secret, especially the more frequently you use your card.

Re:Not just $1.50 (1)

Mooga (789849) | more than 8 years ago | (#15804489)

Some credit card companies have a small program which gives you a temporary Credit Card Number which is only usable once online. While this is useful for paying for one thing, it become a problem when paying for some thing like a webserver which is automaticly renewed every year. This is because when the year comes around the company can't charge a fake credit card number.

Re:Not just $1.50 (4, Informative)

Jah-Wren Ryel (80510) | more than 8 years ago | (#15804662)

Some credit card companies have a small program which gives you a temporary Credit Card Number which is only usable once online.

I have been using it for years. However, those numbers primarily protect the card issuer by reducing fraud. They don't do anything to protect your privacy - you still use must use your real name, real phone number and real billing address.

And, to meander far off topic -- the numbers are good for only one merchant, not only one charge - the first merchant to bill it gets a "lock" that prevents any other merchants from billing it. So you can pay for subscription services with one charge number. You can even increase the limit and expiration date after the fact.

But, in my experience the only personally valuable use is to prevent automatic charging like you described, that's a good thing for me. For example - giganews does not offer a monthly service, you can only sign-up for an account that auto-renews each month. Since their retention is 90 days or so, I don't need continuous service. So, I give them a card# good for one month, they try to renew and fail and put my account on hold. When I am ready to start using them again, I just give them a new card# good for another month. I end up getting effectively a whole year's worth of service for about half the price by only renewing every other month.

It's also good for those magazine subs where the first year is $1 but the subsequent ones are full cover price and they would normally automatically bill you for the renewal without asking. Some of them are so shady that they won't even honor unsubscribe requests, taking them on the phone and then pretending they never got them. They can't pull that stunt if you pay with one of these numbers instead.

Fresh from under a rock, aren't we? (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15804490)

  1. Credit card companies were providing throw-away card numbers for years. If your company doesn't - dump it.
  2. There is a beta refresh coming out. The previous beta was already tested through and through, so why pay for downloads initiated due to idle interest (hint: those who are truly interested download and install software in the first few days/weeks).
  3. I can venture a guess that official beta testers will not pay. If you are not one, but still interested in a taste of things to come, do you have a problem paying $1.50? Well, then perhaps you should wait until the release.

Re:Not just $1.50 (1)

zfalcon (69659) | more than 8 years ago | (#15804892)

Sure, using some bogus info for billing address works fine if you have an alternate shipping address...but (for buying items that aren't download-only) how do you expect the merchant to ship it to you if they don't have your real address?

God MS users are such suckers (0, Troll)

sauge (930823) | more than 8 years ago | (#15804442)

My God! LOL! Here, let me charge you for this untested potential peice of sh|t that will ruin your work after two hours - and you tell me what's wrong with it - so I can charge you for the full version when it comes out!

(Of course we will place your credit card number and other information into a database that others have routinely hacked and used the contents there of for identity theft.)

If one wants to use "beta" software - go use OpenOffice and contribute bug reports.

6 months of a several-hundred-dollar product... (1)

NevDull (170554) | more than 8 years ago | (#15804452)

Hey, 6 months of a several-hundred-dollar product for $1.50 isn't so bad... If you're anti-piracy, but want to use a Microsoft product that you can't afford right now, it sounds like quite a price-reasonable way to go.

Re:6 months of a several-hundred-dollar product... (1)

JackieBrown (987087) | more than 8 years ago | (#15804546)

Do I get a $1.50 rebate check when it is released?

Re:6 months of a several-hundred-dollar product... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15804641)

The first one used to be free. If you want to get hooked on something, don't pay for it, get yourself one of the free Open Source office suites. Otherwise you'll find yourself wanting a several hundred dollar product a few months down the road, still lacking the money to actually buy it. If you go the Open Source route, you get an office suite which does everything you need and doesn't raise the price half a year later. And when a friend asks for a copy, there's no need to feel guilty.

Re:6 months of a several-hundred-dollar product... (1)

EvanED (569694) | more than 8 years ago | (#15804829)

you get an office suite which does everything you need

Except when it doesn't.

Re:6 months of a several-hundred-dollar product... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15804879)

No program is complete (except for Emacs maybe), so there's always going to be a user who wants something that the program doesn't do, but for the vast majority of people Open Office is more than adequate. The fact that it costs even less than Microsoft's timebomb beta versions is just the icing on the cake. I know that MS Office is better, but it's not $300 better for most people. Don't get suckered in. MS Office is not $1.50.

Re:6 months of a several-hundred-dollar product... (1)

babbling (952366) | more than 8 years ago | (#15804787)

Hey, $3 for 3 months isn't too bad, either! That's only $1 per month!

What about $2 per month? Pretty good, too, right? In fact, I bet that anyone willing to pay $2 per month for it is willing to pay $4 instead.

If the price went up to just $5 a month, would that $1 difference really make you change your mind? Besides, by that time, you would have several documents written in the proprietary Office file formats and you wouldn't want to lose access to those documents, would you? In fact, I reckon you would be hurt enough by losing access to those documents that you'd probably pay $10 a month for it.

P.S. Unfortunately, due to rising costs, the price will rise to $12 per month, next year.

If this is about bandwidth costs... (4, Insightful)

doormat (63648) | more than 8 years ago | (#15804453)

Microsoft needs to setup a torrent. Stop being a bunch of pussies and jump on the bandwagon MS!

Re:If this is about bandwidth costs... (1)

UltimApe (991552) | more than 8 years ago | (#15804480)

Yeah, I believe that this would be an almost defacto-standard case that torrents were designed for.

Why have a new version? (1, Interesting)

save_the_fauna (991285) | more than 8 years ago | (#15804472)

Seriosly, what features do people use in Word?
I've only ever used
- Bold, Italics, Underline
- Single/Double spacing
- Left/Center/Right Align
- Page breaks
- Footnotes
- Font/Point Size adjustment
- Pagination
- Spell check (though not grammer check)
- I'm probably missing one or two

I know some people who use images in word documents, as well as that 'track changes' feature. But 99% of the features are useless to me. I'd be perfectly happy with Word v.5 (for mac), though it doesn't run natively on OSX.

Re:Why have a new version? (1)

Apotekaren (904220) | more than 8 years ago | (#15804511)

I think you forgot the Holy Grail of Word, the real reason people actually use that stinking pile of word processing.

Re:Why have a new version? (3, Interesting)

pandrijeczko (588093) | more than 8 years ago | (#15804539)

I think you will find that there are a vast number of people that use Word, indeed MS Office, completely illegally because they happen to be able to get a copy of a CD from their place of work or from a friend/relative - I personally am surrounded by computer-literate people, many with 3 or 4 PCs in the house, but *not one* of them (to my knowledge) has ever paid for MS Office or Windows XP, unless the latter was pre-installed on a new machine.

Yes, I know some people at work who do use a lot of advanced features, particularly in Excel, that are therefore justified in using MS Office specifically. However, for the level most of us have to go to, OpenOffice works perfectly well.

It always amuses me that people are very quick to criticise OpenOffice in comparison to MS Office - but then when you remind those same people that MS Office is a *commercial* office suite whereas OpenOffice is a free one and then ask them if they paid for their copy of MS Office, they tend to go very quiet.

OpenOffice has a way to go to catch up with MS Office but for 90% of normal users, even it will do far more than those users are ever likely to need - and do it in file formats based on open standards.

Re:Why have a new version? (1)

babbling (952366) | more than 8 years ago | (#15804801)

Indeed. I'm far from being a professional office user. I'm very much a casual user, so my opinion is a bit limited, but I can tell you that there isn't a single feature that I could pick out and say "Word has this, and OpenOffice doesn't."

I suppose the one difference that has mattered to me at times was the file formats. Sometimes taking a proprietary doc file from OpenOffice to Word (or vice-versa) will stuff it up, somehow. This is more of a bug than a missing feature, and the bug is due to Microsoft's file format being secret.

Re:Why have a new version? (1)

pandrijeczko (588093) | more than 8 years ago | (#15804882)

This is exactly why Microsoft really does have a very big problem to deal with now and in the coming years.

Just like every other company today, it's having to tighten its belt and maximise income from every possible source - especially when most of MS's shares are held by employees who will no doubt "dump and run" as soon as the stock price drops significantly.

Office is a core MS product and MS knows full well that probably the majority of Office users are using it illegally. However, if it inflicts tighter licensing/piracy restrictions, it knows full well that those same users are just not going to spend several hundred pounds/dollars/Euros/etc. on a legal copy of Office and will instead start using cheaper or free alternatives. And once that starts happening "en masse", MS will lose those users for good as the latter realise that they never needed a whole heap of additional features that they never used. So they will continue to lose a large amount of income through piracy.

As to their proprietary file formats, whilst I'd like to see those opened up completely, MS is never going to let that happen without a fight and it would make no commercial sense for them to do that.

However, in my view, what makes this really interesting are government departments who are obviously a fair-sized portion of the Office user base. Putting aside the restrictive budgets these departments have anyway (for such things as expensive software licenses), they also have an obligation to provide open and free information to the general populace - the idea, therefore, that access to information relies on owning a Microsoft product is not going to hold, especially when most governments are now very aware of the power MS has at the moment.

A bit of a side-track argument but it makes for interesting watching over the next few years. I guess that Office 2007 is just an upgrade to keep the revenue coming in from corporate licenses (are there *REALLY* any more features that can be added to Office apart from the evils of DRM?) but I really do think that MS's only courses of action are to either release a cut-down version of Office for the home user (MS Works doesn't count here) or to focus on web-based applications and go head-to-head with Google - another interesting thing to watch...

Re:Why have a new version? (1)

Millenniumman (924859) | more than 8 years ago | (#15804629)

People use Word because it is all they know. Personally, I think that word processors are a poor concept. Either you just want to get words down, with minimal formatting, or you want to make a presentable document. Word processors are bloated for doing the former, and crippled in doing the latter. A better option is a simple rich text editor (or one of those writer's editors), and a simple page layout application.

Re:Why have a new version? (1)

zbuffered (125292) | more than 8 years ago | (#15804913)

A better option is a simple rich text editor (or one of those writer's editors)
You make a decent point. What do you suggest in a modern F/OSS text editor?

Re:Why have a new version? (1)

Enderandrew (866215) | more than 8 years ago | (#15804638)

For the business world, being able to work collaboratively on documents is huge. And for people who spend a good deal of time working in the Office suite, the new intuitive UI saves time and makes life easier.

I don't doubt the average user would be just as happy with an old version of Office, or OpenOffice for that matter. However what gets people is the evolving document format. If I save a document in Office 2003's format, you need Office 2003 to open it up. That is the primary reason most people buy the new versions.

Re:Why have a new version? (2, Interesting)

Clovert Agent (87154) | more than 8 years ago | (#15804740)

Upgrading aside (because I wonder about that too), your point about using 1% of the package is an important one, but wrong. It's wrong because although it's true, the fact is that not everyone uses the same 1%.

I'm a professional writer, and I use much less of a word processor's feature set that you'd probably expect: an even shorter list than yours. But some tools are just fundamental, like word count: the only thing that kept me away from OpenOffice and on Office for ages was simply the lack of a good word count tool. Then someone wrote a macro to do it, and that was fine, and then it became a feature of OOo 2, so that's great. And I now use OpenOffice.

The same thing will apply everywhere. That's how vendors (and OSS groups) have to target their features: aim for feature wishes shared by large groups of users, even though that will mean that the entire rest of the userbase perceives it as feature-creep. (Slow startup in OpenOffice is a big one for lots of users, for example, but I couldn't care less: I have documents open all day and it doesn't affect me.)

One way to avoid creep is through modules or extensions, like the Linux kernel and Firefox, to pick to examples at extreme opposite ends of the spectrum. Which is fine (apart from the burden on the user of finding the extension he needs in the first place), but I have a lot of problems with Firefox extension stability and the lack of quality control there worries me: it may put some users off the browser, when it is simply a poorly-coded extension at fault. Not everything can be coded to the discipline of the kernel.

Re:Why have a new version? (1)

EvanED (569694) | more than 8 years ago | (#15804893)

Not everything can be coded to the discipline of the kernel.

Dicipline? I'll be honest... I just got done writing an I/O scheduler for Linux, and my opinion has gone down a bit of the project. One of the big straws that broke the camel's back was the time I spent trying to figure out why gcc was giving me an error on the declaration of a variable 'current.' I spent 10 minutes trying to Google the error message to no avail. After 20 or 30 minutes of puzzling, searching, and cursing, it occured to me that it might be a macro. Sure enough, it was. Can someone explain who the hell creates a one word macro in lowercase? Is "doesn't respect scope and context" not the first reason why macros are frowned upon?

I don't have a big problem with stuff like "list_for_each"... it is used like a while loop, it makes the code more consistant and easier to read (I think), and it isn't something that anoyone is ever going to use as a variable name. But current? Sheesh.

Prepare a serious document (1)

AnEmbodiedMind (612071) | more than 8 years ago | (#15804755)

For a lot of tasks I prefer LaTex, but here are some things I've used that weren't on your list, and these aren't crazy way out minority user features:

Tables (and their formatting)
embedded objects from other apps
Document metadata (author etc.)
Page orientation
line Spacing
Table of contents
End notes
Add comments
Track changes

Now putting all of those features, plus the ones in your list, and some power features for people like Mail Merge etc. and you've got a complicated UI.

The new version tries to make all those features more accessible by ditching the pure toolbar and menu models that had collapsed under that feature weight.

Office 12 is easier to use than Open office, AND it has more features.

Re:Why have a new version? (1)

crazygamer (952019) | more than 8 years ago | (#15804862)

I've tried the Beta, and let me tell you, they've conveniently made half of those features next to impossible to find in their stupid new toolbar.

$1.50 is cheap. (2, Funny)

dirtyforker (844960) | more than 8 years ago | (#15804485)

The last Microsoft beta I bought was around $200 although the exact cost was hidden in the price of the computer ...

$1.50 (1)

nighty5 (615965) | more than 8 years ago | (#15804518)

Yep you bet, Microsoft desperately needs the cash.

A_letter; (0)

itsmilesdavis (985700) | more than 8 years ago | (#15804520)




Oh really, now... (-1, Troll)

voice_of_all_reason (926702) | more than 8 years ago | (#15804527)

Now they've just degenerated to "fuck you niggers, try and stop us!"

How long is it before Ballmer is just throwing his money at people to get them to wallow in the mud on the side of the road?

<stainlesssteelcap> (5, Interesting)

celotil (972236) | more than 8 years ago | (#15804529)

Microsoft is doing this not to offset bandwidth costs - well, maybe not just to offset bandwidth costs. They're doing this to test a newer method of buying MS software, a method that gets the general public used to the idea of continuously paying for Office, then Windows, then probably MS's entire software line.

Imagine, thirty days down the road from time of purchase of a surprisingly cheap copy of Office you get a little pop-up notice telling you that you need to re-register Office, all for the low cost of $1.50.

Every month you get this little notice, and you re-register. It's just a buck-fifty right?

Hmm. Let's say you use the same copy of Office, purchased for the low, low! price of $49.95, for two years. Every month you pay that meager $1.50.

49.95 + (24 x 1.50) = $85.95

Not much compared to the current cost for Office Retail, but what about Windows, MS Anti-virus/Spyware, Age of Empires IV...

Let's say Windows is the same price as Office - that's another $85.95 - and the Anti-virus is just marginally cheaper - $24 = 24 x $1.

$85.95 x 2 + $24 = $195.90

$195.90, every two years, paid by people who are likely to purchase their computer pre-made with Windows and Office already installed.

I have no official reason to believe this, that's just my take on the situation.


People value things more when charged. (4, Insightful)

Dr_Barnowl (709838) | more than 8 years ago | (#15804534)

Here's a thought ; it's elaborate marketing.

As pointed out above, most of the people who were prepared to download this beta software for free probably already have. Now this announcement that a charge will be imposed will have 2 effects.

  • Before wednesday, there will be a mad scrabble to download it by many people who previously couldn't be bothered. By putting a deadline on the charge, MS have imposed a sense of urgency on the whole thing.
  • After wednesday, anyone who pays for it to be downloaded is far more likely to give it a proper testing-out, rather than just opening a document or two and verifying that it doesn't crash. We value things more when we pay for them.

There's the aforementioned use of credit card details to build up an interested customer base (and I wouldn't be surprised if there was an accompanying list of people to put through a BSA audit should they not subsequently purchase an upgrade).

I wouldn't be surprised if $1.50 wasn't even enough to cover the cost of implementing a charging infrastructure ; after transaction charges, server costs, implementation, project documentation, etc.

Re:People value things more when charged. (2, Insightful)

ben there... (946946) | more than 8 years ago | (#15804849)

After wednesday, anyone who pays for it to be downloaded is far more likely to give it a proper testing-out, rather than just opening a document or two and verifying that it doesn't crash. We value things more when we pay for them.

I think that's the primary reason. Even a trivial amount of money transforms the downloader's mentality from that of "free stuff" to "paying customer." It helps them get a bigger ROI (investment being both bandwidth and time spent sifting through feedback).

Why do you all hate microsoft? (5, Funny)

aersixb9 (267695) | more than 8 years ago | (#15804566)

They're almost giving away a product that has traditionally cost $500. Even though it's labeled beta, I'll bet that this is a pretty good version of office. They've been giving away visual studio for a while now, too. $1.50 for a software download of the most popular software product ever (after windows) is a pretty good deal, I hope more companies follow and offer cheap versions of their software for download. Perhaps software wants to be free?

On the Microsoft hatred topic...why the heck is there so much anti-microsoft sentiments, so much so that visual studio has been excluded from schools? Is it because Bill is a serious competitor against the NATO governments for leader of Earth? (As the richest (or second richest) person he controls a large number of people through paying them to do things, and can control a large amount of the earths production both directly and indirectly through financial manipulation) From what I've read of his books he's very anti-government and pro-freedom, and I'd think you'd all think he was cool.

Re:Why do you all hate microsoft? (1)

jZnat (793348) | more than 8 years ago | (#15804618)

I can get for free, legally. You can't compete with free, especially at $500 a pop.

Bill != Micro$oft (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15804683)

Sure, Bill Gates might be a cool guy. Heck, looking at all the money he throws out from the foundation for useful things isnt bad at all.

Microsoft is a corporation, though. Sure, Bill is at the head of the corporate tree, but there are a lot of other movers and shakers at the top as well. As a whole, /. seems to not like corporations, especially large ones with granted monopolies who have been known to abuse their corporate position on a regular basis.

Re:Why do you all hate microsoft? (5, Interesting)

Duhavid (677874) | more than 8 years ago | (#15804733)

In case you were asking a serious question...

On the Microsoft hatred topic...why the heck is there so much anti-microsoft sentiments

I started out liking Microsoft. My disaffect grew out of seeing the
installer for Windows ( I think 3.1 ) tell me that the OS/2 install that
I had on my machine was something I should remove cause it was just
taking up space. The wording was something I recall as being very
likely for someone unexperienced to decide to remove it. The years
of hearing from Microsoft that their products where enterprise ready,
when they just were not. The Stac and Novell DR Dos issues were not
handled with honor, in my opinion. The 94 consent decree, all but
ignored. The issue of coercing OEM's into the "pay for a license for
every machine that leaves the building, or pay more, regardless of
what is actually on the machine" ( how can the "free market" decide in
the face of a built in price step like that ). All the nonsense about
"this is about removing our ability to innovate" on the last round
of anti trust legal wrangling. Running Netscape out of business for
the most part, then having the gall to say that the aquisition of Netscape
by AOL was proof that there was plenty of freedom and competition. The
decision to embed IE deeper into the system, a stupid decision, excepting
for how it allowed them to manipulate things legally. Microsoft's talk
of innovation, but constantly seeing others break trail, only to have
Microsoft come in later and "take their lunch" ( then complaining about
Google taking their lunch, when the only reason there is competition
between Google and Microsoft, is because Microsoft decided to enter
Google's market niche. Which brings me to the point of Microsoft seeming
to need to enter every niche in existance, to make it so that Microsoft
is the only company left standing ( yeah, they havent succeeded, but it
isnt because they havent tried ). The reduction of innovation that the
preceeding point brings ( yeah, I'm going to invest in your startup,
but first, how are you going to keep Microsoft from taking it all from
you, if you prove this is a winner ). All the hoopla about Microsoft
innovating, when the real effect is the opposite. I could go on, but
I think I have hit the high notes.

Hate them? No, not really. But I dont like them, nor the effect that they
have had. No, that effect has not been 100% bad, but it could have been
so much better.

Re:Why do you all hate microsoft? (1)

Fullhazard (985772) | more than 8 years ago | (#15804775)

The reason everyone hates microsoft is precisely because they're giving away a product that normally costs 500$.

They've built a business model out of charging ridiculous amounts of money for products that aren't worth the installation media they're printed on, and forcing better products to take the back seat.

To put it another way: I wouldn't buy office at full price. I wouldn't buy office for 1.50$. Hell, I wouldn't even download office for free, because better programs exist.

A bag full of shit that's discounted 500$ isn't a deal.
On a side note, my Captcha word is ironically 'retail'

Re:Why do you all hate microsoft? (2, Insightful)

EvanED (569694) | more than 8 years ago | (#15804874)

Hell, I wouldn't even download office for free, because better programs exist.


I ask that in all seriousness, at least for Word. I haven't used Word Perfect since it came with one of those strips you put above your function keys that told you what they all did alone, with alt, with ctrl, and with shift because there weren't menus because it was a curses-like interface with no mouse. So it's possible that it's better. But is there anything else? Really? (And don't say OO Writer or I'll toss my head back laughing. OO is a fine project and improving faster than Office is, but in a couple areas that are important to me, they're still at least a version behind the version of Office uses, which is in turn two versions behind the current beta. So there's a bit of catching up to do. Maybe v.3. Here's hoping.)

This doesn't make a lot of sense (1)

Millenniumman (924859) | more than 8 years ago | (#15804584)

I don't really have a problem with it, but it seems pointless. The article talks about bandwidth costs, but how much can $1.00 help? If it was a small shareware company, sure, but Microsoft, who loses money on every XBox? If it was $5-10, it would be useful to filter out people who aren't really going to beta test the software, just maybe open it up. $1.00 isn't any worse than the 15 pages of "signing up" (at least for Vista). $1.00 is hardly worth getting a credit card out for.

Re:This doesn't make a lot of sense (2, Funny)

Ohreally_factor (593551) | more than 8 years ago | (#15804866)

it's the tubes. They have to buy new tubes so they can send you an internet. Trucks just won't do. They're expensive and highly inefficient.

Yea but (1)

IlliniECE (970260) | more than 8 years ago | (#15804588)

Thats like paying to participate in a drug trial

This doesn't seem particuarly evil. (3, Interesting)

enosys (705759) | more than 8 years ago | (#15804603)

I don't think Microsoft is being particularly evil here. If anything they're being pretty nice offering a free Vista beta and an almost free Office beta. For example, did Apple give out free Tiger betas? $1.50 isn't much. I first thought it was kind of ridiculous to bother charging that but then I noted the article says the beta has been downloaded 3 million times so far so it'll certainly add up.

The one thing that bothers me about this is that they haven't considered P2P. They say the price is to offset the cost of downloading from their servers. Well, why don't they offer the beta via BitTorrent for free and just charge for downloading from their servers? I reallize their cost still wouldn't be zero per download but it should be quite small and acceptable.

Re:This doesn't seem particuarly evil. (1)

Enderandrew (866215) | more than 8 years ago | (#15804652)

I agree. People seem hell bent on twisting and villianizing every single action of Microsoft. But this move seems reasonable to me.

Re:This doesn't seem particuarly evil. (1)

joe 155 (937621) | more than 8 years ago | (#15804716)

well they wouldn't want to allow P2P downloading because Vista likes to actively stop people from using these things. If you thought that you told your computer what to do you are dead wrong. On the forum I use most one member encountered a fairly interesting problem, being that Vista was checking what he was downloading and when something seemed like it might not be legal they had his interent connection stopped... lovely.

You can read the e-mail he got from them at the thread here; 936&page=1&pp=15 []

Re:This doesn't seem particuarly evil. (1)

EvanED (569694) | more than 8 years ago | (#15804858)

Did you even read that thread? He didn't say it was, he said he suspected it might be. No one came up with a definitive answer. To be honest, Occam's razor tells me that it probably wasn't vista...

Beta 3 (4, Funny)

wiresquire (457486) | more than 8 years ago | (#15804604)

And beta 3 will cost $450 rrp. It's just they will forget to add the Beta 3 to the name and accidentally send it out to the stores

Big deal, happens too for Linux. (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15804637)

My roomate once payed $20 for a "Linux Preview" at Best Buy. I don't recall anyone here getting too upset about that. Wonder why. Can you spell h-y-p-o-c-r-i-s-y?

For what it's worth.... (3, Funny)

rts008 (812749) | more than 8 years ago | (#15804639)

At least now they are calling their product a beta, and finally charging what it's worth.

But it still is not as much of a bargain as OpenOffice.

Full circle... (5, Insightful)

mlow82 (889294) | more than 8 years ago | (#15804644)

In the good ol' days, lesser-known start up companies would pay beta testers for their valuable input.

In recent years, people could beta-test software (such as GMail, Windows, and IE7) for free.

Now we are paying to become the beta-testers!!

Re:Full circle... (1)

Fullhazard (985772) | more than 8 years ago | (#15804796)

No, that's only half-circle. Full circle would be getting back to the good way, where people are paid for their time.

Although, to be fair, going full circle is a good way to describe windows.
10: Programs are slow, because only slow processors exist, and buggy, because there isn't adequate testing time for the OS.
20: Bugs get fixed, processors speed up, and everyone is happy.
30: Microsoft releases new OS. OS uses more cpu, slowing down the system, and despite having a monopoly and no competitors, rushes the system out the door (although it's 9 months late), and 9 zero-day (literally) exploits come out.
Personally, I would rather have the next windows be like Duke Nukem Forever, and spend 10 years in development but not be rushed, but that isn't going to happen, because MS really needs the extra untold billions that releasing a new OS (even though it isn't better than the old os) will bring.

Re:Full circle... (5, Insightful)

DavidD_CA (750156) | more than 8 years ago | (#15804844)

It's supply and demand. There used to be very few people qualified enough to beta test. Over time, that number has grown exponentially. Now it is at the point where people *want* to beta test and in some cases are willing to pay for that opportunity.

For me it's not about hunting bugs, it's about being educated.

Because I want to stay on top of my game, and tell my clients what to expect with the next round of software, I'd be willing to pay, too.

Bandwidth costs eh? (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15804658)

ed2k://|file|OPPLUS-EN.EXE|461881224|C57D05B6DFDBF 0CC07A5F31382A9045F|p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|/

Fines (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15804711)

Hey, they need to pay for those EU fines somehow :)

It's not the bandwidth (4, Insightful)

ShooterNeo (555040) | more than 8 years ago | (#15804713)

The real cost here is not the bandwidth. The reason Microsoft is charging a fee is to greatly reduce the number of people who download the beta. Why do they want fewer beta testers? Because every bug report a beta tester sends in HAS TO BE LOOKED AT IN SOME WAY. Granted, there's automated tools so that if a particular bug leaves a certain memory signature, they can avoid looking at the thousands and thousands of identical reports of the same bug. And, Microsoft has one of the largest information worker staffs in the world.

Despite what we say about them, however, Microsoft is still a group of professionals. Before releasing a product, they have to make a list of every known bug and decide that every bug still in the program on release is not important enough to fix. They have to view every bug report. They are probably overwhelmed right now.

OSS (2, Insightful)

Borgschulze (842056) | more than 8 years ago | (#15804721)

Why not just use It's fast, stable, reliable, and free, and it supports all the Microsoft Office formats.

Re:OSS (1)

GFree (853379) | more than 8 years ago | (#15804735)

it supports all the Microsoft Office formats
Should read "sorta supports all the Microsoft Office formats". While it does a good job for many documents, some others get mangled or have things misaligned, missing, etc. A lot of people won't allow the compromise and will demand nothing less than full compatibility.

We've had this discussion a thousand times already. People won't just move to because you say so.

Re:OSS (1)

Borgschulze (842056) | more than 8 years ago | (#15804739)

I have, and so should everyone else. I demand everyone move to Open Office.

Action Pack (2, Informative)

DavidD_CA (750156) | more than 8 years ago | (#15804724)

It should be noted that subscribers of MSDN and Action Pack were recently shipped DVDs for Office 2006 and Vista, as part of their subscription.

Alright... I'll pay the $1.50 (2, Funny)

xLittleP (987772) | more than 8 years ago | (#15804772)

But I want a discount when I buy the retail version, dammit!

what a rip off! (1)

kbox (980541) | more than 8 years ago | (#15804786)

They are paying us just $1.50 to beta test their software for them? Oh, wait. I didn't read that right.

Seriously, A buck 50 is the kinda thing the homeless are supposed to ask for, Not MS.

Why pay? (1)

Klaidas (981300) | more than 8 years ago | (#15804861)

First, I would like to say that 1.5$ isn't much to pay for software. But...
Aren't we actually helping Microsoft by using their beta products? Doesn't Microsoft read reviews of their software and then try to make it better? (I know this last sentence sounds silly, but I mean things like Vista's user permision system, etc)
If we help them, they should pay US! Of course, that is never going to happen, but they should at least allow to test for free and then thanks us.
On the other hand, their software was free for sime time, and Vista's beta still is.
If they have bandwidth problems, isn't it time to learn from free sofware and set up some mirrors? Sheeesh, even paid software like GetRight has them!

I just don't get it (1)

pembo13 (770295) | more than 8 years ago | (#15804891)

People complain that they rather Windows over OSS based OSes because of the regular need to contribute bug reports, etc. Yet people are willing to (regardless of the magnitude of the cost) to beta test a program which if they like they will have to pay for again, despite that in all likelyhood they already have an older version of the program, which they already paid for? But using a free product, and contributing to it (also for free) is too much of a hassel?

New Business model? (1, Interesting)

Elektroschock (659467) | more than 8 years ago | (#15804964)

Charging for bug hunting. Not bad. Microsoft sells hunting permissions. A business idea for the future.

to semi quote bill gates from the simpsons: (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15805003)

'you don't think i became the richest man in the world by writing out cheques (checks to some) did you? hahaha!'

at which point he overturns the desk, thus 'buying out' the company
Load More Comments
Slashdot Login

Need an Account?

Forgot your password?

Submission Text Formatting Tips

We support a small subset of HTML, namely these tags:

  • b
  • i
  • p
  • br
  • a
  • ol
  • ul
  • li
  • dl
  • dt
  • dd
  • em
  • strong
  • tt
  • blockquote
  • div
  • quote
  • ecode

"ecode" can be used for code snippets, for example:

<ecode>    while(1) { do_something(); } </ecode>